As many of you know, I recently participated in an eBird-run challenge to find the most species in an 80 kilometer circle and the 2015 calendar year. There were three categories: Youth, Beginner, and Experienced, and about 115 participants.
In addition to the main competition, there were three seperate challenges. Early Bird Challenge (whoever finds the most species before March 1), Youth Winter Waterfowl Challenge (the most species of waterfowl found before May 1) and the Latecomer Challenge (whoever finds the most new species for their list after August 1). The Latecomer and Early Bird challenges were for all the participants together (so no specific categories), and the Youth Waterfowl one was for the Youth competitors only.
Out of the four competitions, I came second in two and tied first for one. It was annoying, for I had been leading the race when I left for England, but the very next day, my main compettitor found 6 new species. Six species, even if I hadn’t been away meant a lot at that stage.
The whole year was a fierce battle between me and him, who actually lives in the circle (I don’t). The lead flip-flopped the whole way, most notably when I was in Ontario, then again when he was in the States. I thank him for the competition, but wish he had slacked off a little more!
It was still a great year, and I found 235 species in the circle, including one of my favorites, the Great Grey Owl.
The biggest highlight for me was a Big Day lead by Dan Arndt, which you can read about here. Thank you Dan for that and co-organising this competition!